Opinion | Pay attention to news abroad, learn about different cultures
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 03:09
So as the election continues to rage on, and the op-eds seem to fall out of the sky on both sides of the political spectrum I’d like to take this opportunity to look at what is happening outside the United States.
Lately the media has been abuzz with images of burning flags, riots and violence across the Islamic world, but as the mass media makes an attempt to try and convey the meaning behind all this outrage I cannot help but wonder what our job as students here at Miami University is when it all seems so far away from little old Oxford, Ohio.
This past Tuesday I spent most of my time between classes watching the 67th General Assembly meeting of the United Nations in which our own President’s speech discussed messages like hope, tolerance and understanding (all wonderful things).
However, the one idea that President Barack Obama kept coming back to that I believe applies to all sections of the political spectrum was the power of the student.
From North Africa to the Pacific Rim, college students, very much like you and I, have been finding increasingly creative ways to help fight repressive regimes around the globe using networks like social media to both educate and connect people within their movements.
My question then becomes, as an American college student what can I do? We live in one of the freest nations on earth and we don’t usually find ourselves in day-to-day struggles like those of Egyptian teens. Well, despite what I’m going to call, for all intents and purposes, student negligence there is one thing in particular that I’m going to stress here – engagement.
Walk down any hallway in any building on this campus, I don’t care what major you are, you are bound to see hundreds of flyers lining the walls advertising for everything from student documentaries on cross cultural conversations in Morocco to Latin American festivals uptown.
This past week I happened to attend both these events, and not because I’m Latin American (which I’m not), or because I want to study abroad in Morocco, but because with all this recent violence abroad it has reminded me that it is important to take advantages of these sorts of things and to make an attempt to learn about other cultures and other people so that when it is our turn to run things we have a better understanding of the people we share this world with.
The idea is often romanticized, but in my personal opinion one of the only ways, and one of the most accessible ways, is to work at these problems that face our nation abroad by learning firsthand about the people involved instead of depending entirely on sources like Fox News and MSNBC which I think people are doing a little bit too much of.
It is entirely unfair to judge based on the media alone.
In the past year or so, the power of the student around the globe has astounded me, and it worries me that I do not see enough people on this campus taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered by Miami and its organizations to take these steps in learning outside of class.
There is so much to learn and so much to understand when cultures collide.
It is for this reason that I am pushing you guys here to step a little outside your comfort zone and got to a talk on The Risk of War in Macedonia, or to go see a speaker from China come talk about human rights over in Farmer, because these problems are not going to just go away with mind probes and television, it’s going to be solved by educated and dedicated students like ourselves!
So even if politics really isn’t your thing I’d be willing to bet you pick up a few things along the way, and at the very least you start to get your money’s worth for this outrageous tuition.